Dempo Sports Club is on the wait and watch mode, whether to join mainstream football, after All India Football Federation (AIFF) did not give it a direct entry to the 2018-19 I – League. “We expected AIFF to take us back after the AIFF president invited us to come back during the 50th year celebration of the club. I do not know what happened after we applied,” Dempo SC general secretary Wilfred D’Souza told The Navhind Times.
“My chairman (Shrinivas Dempo) is aware of the road block players are facing with the three teams -from Goa – Dempo SC, Salgaocar FC and Sporting Clube de Goa – opting out of the I-League. This was one of the main reasons for trying to get a direct entry to the I-league. We have to wait and start thinking afresh as we are not certain of what the future holds for football in India with FIFA setting a time line for the merger of the I-league with Indian Super League (ISL) ,” added Wilfred.
FIFA, it may be recalled, has set year 2020 as the deadline for AIFF to have one league in place.
Dempo SC is the only club in the country with the best youth development programme. The clubs has a FIFA standard ground and infrastructure related to football is expected to be ready by the end of 2020. “Dempo has the best structured Youth development side. We have eight coaches, two physios , four managers, one technical director, one warden , and a governing council that oversees the functioning,” admits Wilfred.
“Dempo is in football for the last fifty years and will not make decisions if he is not sure . My chairman understands the depth of football very well. He understands the pulse of football better than anyone else,” elaborated Wilfred when asked whether Dempo SC will not make another bid for direct entry into the I-league or gain entry by qualifying from the second division.
Dempo SC was relegated to the second division of the I-league in 2015 and qualified the next year. At that time Bharat FC , who had a one year exemption of relegation, withdrew from the I-League and yet Dempo SC had to qualify from the second division. The team did not get direct entry like Churchill Brothers FC has been given this year.
“The club understands that playing in the Goa Professional League is not going to help players progress in football. But, this is not the time to take a jump forward with there being no clarity in AIFF vis a vis FIFA’s stand and AIFF’s role with ISL. But, something will happen sooner or later and we will react . We are being patient and we expect players to be patient too,” says Wilfred.
“Dempo Sports club has not cut down on its spending. There are finances to run an I-league team along with the Academy. We see participation at the national level as a door to the Academy or vice versa,” concluded Wilfred.